Green Bay Packers: Mid-Season Superlatives ahead of Week 9

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers, De'Vondre Campbell
Green Bay Packers, De’Vondre Campbell (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Best Defensive Player: De’Vondre Campbell

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Kenny Clark for his tremendous play all season long, however, De’Vondre Campbell has been the heartbeat of this defense in 2021.

This has proven to be the most significant addition Brian Gutekunst made in the off-season. It’s incredible to see the kind of difference an inside linebacker playing at this level has been able to make for this defense. One has to wonder if this has caused the upper management to reconsider the way they evaluate the position.

Under the previous two regimes, it’s been abundantly clear that they value the position very little, evidenced by the lack of resources committed over the last decade plus. One could argue the Packers haven’t had plus inside linebacker play since Nick Barnett and Desmond Bishop, which is quite alarming if you really think about it.

De’Vondre Campbell has been an excellent tackler (only missing two tackles thus far), a plus defender in the run (it’s been great seeing a middle linebacker actually get off of their blocks), and has been reliable in pass coverage. In recent years you could hope for one or the other, never both.

The Packers currently own the ninth-ranked scoring defense, and seventh-ranked defense in yards allowed per game. It’s hard to imagine the Packers having those rankings without Campbell’s presence in the middle of the defense.

Campbell just wont he NFC defensive player of the month, and has played at a Pro-Bowl level since day one – and could be deserving of All-Pro consideration if he keeps it up.

Rising star: Rashan Gary

Rashan Gary may not have piled up the counting stats thus far, but don’t let that deceive you – he’s been fantastic this season.

Gary has really stepped up in the absence of Za’Darius Smith – and leads the Packers with 3.5 sacks. More importantly, Gary has continued his upward arc of development, showing noticeable progress for the third straight season.

This has been a breakout season for Rashan Gary and his relentless, high-motor style of play will eventually lead to the counting stats everybody wants to see. He may not have the bend you like to see from a pass-rusher that wins with sheer athleticism, but he is able to consistently win with hand placement and strength as an inside rusher.

Either way, Rashan Gary has been magnificent and looks the part of the edge rusher the Packers were hoping they’d get when they picked him 12th overall. Soon enough, Rashan Gary is going to be a household name.